Something in the Air

A note on the back cover of Peter Gill’s latest play, Something in the Air, at Jermyn Street Theatre, claims that the stories of the two old protagonists “flow like mist down the Thames”. The reality is that their tales create a fog that is often hard to see through. “As the old men’s youth comes to life, so do the young men they once loved.” Thanks for that. It’s unfortunate that this gem of information is not made more widely known from the outset, for therein lies the key to navigating through the clag. Before reading the sleeve a conversation on the street after the play with a man who had fathomed it out allowed me to unravel the mire of this play on the way home.

An essentially static and lifeless production

Alex (Christopher Godwin) and Colin (Ian Gelder) sit side by side in matching red leather armchairs staring somewhat hauntingly into the audience, when not nodding off. Neither has a direct gaze, as might be the case if their alternating reminiscences were addressed to us in the form of a monologue. Neither are they part of a conversation each has with the other. Only occasionally do they interact. The appearance of two young men, Nicholas (James Schofield) and Gareth (Sam Thorpe-Spinks), one on each side, might suggest that these two are the younger incarnations of the old men. Believing that can lead to considerable confusion, for these two apparitions are in fact the respective first loves of the two men, who exist in their minds and to whom their words are addressed.

They are joined by two real-time visitors. Clare (Claire Price), the niece of Colin and Andrew (Andrew Woodall), Alex’s son, whom he frequently confuses with his other son Robert, a reminder that his mind is not what it used to be. His obsession with a family dog not being not allowed on the premises further illustrates his mental deterioration. There’s more to the Robert and the dog story, but telling would spoil a tiny twist.

The rather shallow Andrew makes a great deal of fuss about the men placing their hands on top of each other and what the carers might think while not understanding why Clare is not bothered about it. She points out that he is making a fuss over nothing and it’s hard not to disagree and wonder why this element was ever included. Indeed, the existence of the four minor characters often seems questionable, given that their parts are considerably underwritten and that they remain idle for much of the time.

The two men never leave their chairs and the direction under Peter Gill and Alice Hamilton makes for an essentially static and lifeless production, with the most minimal of sound matched by lighting that remains constant throughout.

An encouraging aspect of the play is that here we have a new work that provides an opportunity for elderly actors to assume centre-stage. Godwin is 79 and Gelder 73. The downside is that they become stereotypical portrayals of men in the declining years of life in a nursing home, but then that is what the play is about.

Throw in some rambling memories of happier days and that is Something in the Air.

Reviews by Richard Beck

The Bridge House Theatre

Keeper Of The Flame

★★★
The Jack Studio Theatre

Wasted

★★★★
The Mill at Sonning Theatre

Top Hat

★★★★
Orange Tree Theatre

Arms and the Man

★★★★★
Chelsea Theatre

MSND

★★★★★
English National Opera

The Yeomen of the Guard

★★★

Since you’re here…

… we have a small favour to ask. We don't want your money to support a hack's bar bill at Abattoir, but if you have a pound or two spare, we really encourage you to support a good cause. If this review has either helped you discover a gem or avoid a turkey, consider doing some good that will really make a difference.

You can donate to the charity of your choice, but if you're looking for inspiration, there are three charities we really like.

Mama Biashara
Kate Copstick’s charity, Mama Biashara, works with the poorest and most marginalised people in Kenya. They give grants to set up small, sustainable businesses that bring financial independence and security. That five quid you spend on a large glass of House White? They can save someone’s life with that. And the money for a pair of Air Jordans? Will take four women and their fifteen children away from a man who is raping them and into a new life with a moneymaking business for Mum and happiness for the kids.
Donate to Mama Biashara now

Theatre MAD
The Make A Difference Trust fights HIV & AIDS one stage at a time. Their UK and International grant-making strategy is based on five criteria that raise awareness, educate, and provide care and support for the most vulnerable in society. A host of fundraising events, including Bucket Collections, Late Night Cabarets, West End Eurovision, West End Bares and A West End Christmas continue to raise funds for projects both in the UK and Sub-Saharan Africa.
Donate to Theatre MAD now

Acting For Others
Acting for Others provides financial and emotional support to all theatre workers in times of need through the 14 member charities. During the COVID-19 crisis Acting for Others have raised over £1.7m to support theatre workers affected by the pandemic.
Donate to Acting For Others now

Performances

Location

The Blurb

Alex and Colin’s stories flow like mist down the Thames, roll under Hammersmith Bridge, and slip past the windows of forgotten Soho restaurants. As the old men’s youth comes to life, so do the young men they once loved. Peter Gill co-directs the world premiere of this captivating and romantic portrait of London with the acclaimed Alice Hamilton.

Most Popular See More

The Lion King

From £42.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Pretty Woman: The Musical

From £24.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Tina - The Tina Turner Musical

From £24.00

More Info

Find Tickets

The Mousetrap

From £24.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Wicked

From £24.00

More Info

Find Tickets

The Book of Mormon

From £24.00

More Info

Find Tickets